FEATURE: Antoine Knighton

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Antoine Knighton is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and he officiates college and semi professional basketball. He played professional basketball in Europe and as well as other countries. He's going on two years of being vegan. 

I decided to go vegan January 2016 after being a vegetarian for a year. I decided to go vegan because I was inspired by 2 of my vegan friends. They had a youthful appearance. They introduced me to a couple of documentaries, one being Food Inc., which was very enlightening! Once I understood the entire process of how animals were slaughtered and processed, I decided to stop eating meat "cold turkey."  

There were several debates with my friends. They questioned how I was going to get protein, B12, and other forms of nutrition. They were of the belief that animals were created for humans to eat. In other words, my friends were not very supportive.  My family, on the other hand, was very supportive. They encouraged me to do what was best for me. Some of my family members have started to change their eating habits after seeing what eating a plant-based diet has done for me.  

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For people who currently eat meat, they should recognize the harmful effects that eating meat, fish, and dairy has on their body. I would encourage them to eat plant-based in order to cleanse their bodies inside, which will also help with their outer appearance. You have more mental clarity, energy, and feel less sluggish throughout the day. Raise your conscientiousness and compassion for all animal life.  

Since moving to a plant-based diet, I have lost over 40 pounds. I am now helping others transition to a vegan life-style through coaching and mentorship.  I also started a vegan social group to bring people together and introduce them to vegan restaurants and festivals in Atlanta throughout the year. I am a former international pro basketball player who now referees on a collegiate and semi-pro basketball level.  My mission is to help other referees, athletes, and anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. I am the Vegan Referee!

Social Media

Instagram: @kenyon20

BVR Interview: Jabari Brisport

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Jabari Brisport  is a Green Party candidate for New York’s 35th City Council District.

BVR: First of all, can you tell our audience who you are and how you got interested in politics?

JB: I'm a 30 year old resident of Brooklyn, who grew up in the district I'm running to represent. In fact, my family's lived here for three generations. I come from a theatrical background, but politics and activism have always worked their way into my life. For example, while at NYU, I created an anti-gentrification theater group. We performed in the park near campus and used the show as a way to collect signatures from residents to fight a rezoning. I fell in love with electoral politics while working on the Bernie Sanders campaign. Now I'm running my own campaign.
 

BVR: I read on the internet that you're a Democratic Socialist. Could you explain what that is? I also read that you are a member of the Green party. Could you let our audience know how that differs from being a Democrat or Republican?

JB: I believe in a world that's centered around people's needs, as opposed to profits. I also believe in democratic control and management: think worker coops or credit unions. Imagine a world where we, the people, controlled the pipeline companies. We wouldn't be using those tools to build a pipeline through the burial grounds at Standing Rock. We'd be using those tools to build new pipes for Flint, Michigan. In regards to the Green Party, here are the biggest things that set us apart: we don't take corporate donations, we want to cut the military budget in half, we advocate for reparations for black Americans, and we're fighting for 100% clean energy by 2030. We're awesome.

BVR: How did you first learn about veganism and how did you decide that it was something you wanted to adopt for your own life? How did your friends and family react?

JB: I learned about veganism in high school. I actually went vegetarian first, while in college and taking a class on animals in theater. I went vegan 5 years later because the dairy and egg industries are terrible, and I knew they were terrible. My family and friends are a mixture of responses. Some are supportive. Some are dismissive/mocking, but then end up supportive.

BVR: How do you see racial politics intersecting with food politics? 

JB: It can get problematic when people compare the animal liberation movement to the abolitionist movement. Animals should be free, and some can be considered persons. But they are not people. And I'm not vegan because I consider animals my equals. I'm vegan because causing suffering is wrong. 

BVR: What advice do you have for black people who might feel like veganism isn't for them. There are a lot of media stereotypes that depict veganism as a 'white person's thing.' What are you thoughts? 

JB: Yeah, veganism is often conflated with white people and affluence. People need to be educated that it's not just expensive processed meats and fruit smoothies. They also need to be educated that there are plenty of black vegans, and it's a healthier and more ethical alternative to eating meat. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with avoiding senseless suffering.
 
BVR: How do you see veganism impacting your politics AS a politician? For example, we know that Senator Cory Booker is a politician who is pretty vocal about animal oppression and has made attempts to bring veganism into the public and political sphere.

JB: I'd like to ban the sale of fur. I know it's been done on the West Coast twice, and I'd like to maintain the momentum.
 
BVR: Fun question: what is your favorite vegan dish?

JB: I can eat "chickpea tuna" (chickpeas, vegan mayo, spices) anytime, anywhere.

FEATURE: Nzingah Oniwosan

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So how did I get here? 

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

At 19 I had five physicians that I saw on a regular basis because of a prolactinoma (pituitary tumor) and scleroderma (autoimmune disorder). 
Beginning at 12 years of age I was condemned to a life of prescription drugs, being poked, and asked to be studied (my autoimmune disorder is rare and was atypical in its presentation). I felt like there had to be better way and with some research I felt veganism and a herbal protocol was my way towards health or being the healthiest I could be given the circumstances.

I made the changes and weaned myself off the drugs. I became a certified holistic health consultant, raw vegan chef, and yoga instructor so I could own my healing process. My autoimmune disorder has been in remission and the major side effects of my prolactinoma (irregular menstrual cycle) has been eliminated.

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People come into veganism for different reasons - some for health and others for animal rights. With time it really becomes a lifestyle and doesn't feel so cumbersome. Sixteen years ago I would have never imagined myself here. I am grateful for health. I am grateful to now assist people along the same journey through my personal narrative and  trainings. 

You can find me at www.yesbabyilikeitraw.com

Social Media

Instagram: www.instagram.com/yesbabyilikeitraw

Personal Facebook: www.facebook.acom/SankofasChild

Business Facebook: www.facebook.com/YesBabyILikeItRaw

FEATURE: Ebiye Jeremy Udo-Udoma

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Ebiye Jeremy Udo-Udoma is a 24 year old international athlete coming up on year seven as a vegan.

1. Why did you decide to go vegan?

When I was 15 I went vegetarian after becoming enamored with the cartoon "Avatar: The Last Airbender." I resonated with the culture of the protagonist's native land "Air Nomads" whom were strict vegetarians and emphasized spirituality, peace, intuition, and freedom. So as childish as it may seem, my inspiration for vegetarianism came from a cartoon. I should note my transition to vegetarianism was driven by externally oriented concerns; the environment, animal cruelty, etc. As I progressed through my 15th, 16th, and 17th years I increased my study of nutrition, as well as other holistic health practices, and started making connections between the specific substances I put in my body and my well-being.

I started refining my diet and lifestyle practices more with my athletic aspirations in mind, which lead me to a fruit-based diet. I never liked eggs or dairy and when I removed whey protein from my diet I noticed that I was, by definition, vegan. Unlike my transition from omnivorism to vegetarianism, my transition from vegetarianism to veganism was for internally focused reasons, mainly my athleticism and long-term health. I soon realized that what's best for myself and what's best for the greater good of man aren't mutually exclusive.

2. How did your friends and family react when you went vegan?

There wasn't much kick-back when I initially went vegetarian when I was 15, most just thought, "Okay man, but I couldn't ever do that." Additionally, my friends and family haven't, at least to my face, made any qualms about me being vegan. I've always been a "picky-eater" and I haven't been too public about my veganism so my friends and family just consider it a part of my idiosyncratic nature.

I did have one National Team Coach who cussed me out in front of my teammates when I started my first international tournament off poorly exclaiming, "Start f***ing eating right*, which is probably the harshest response I've received, but that's just the territory of being a unique athlete. You play well and everyone wants to know your secret; you aren't playing well and any peculiarities you have become a scapegoat for the team's failure. It's not something I used to tell people as to avoid the stereotypes associated with being vegan, nor did I want people to say things along the lines of "he's a good athlete, for a vegan."  

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3. You stated that you haven't been too public with your veganism, but now you're ready to be public. What was the shift? 

I personally don't like being defined by the things I don't do, in this case being defined by not eating animal products. I don't spend my days fighting the urge to eat eggs or dairy, nor do I spend them arguing with people who do, I just live my life and it just happens to be one where I don't consume animal products. I'm a firm believer of keeping my consciousness on the things I do as opposed to the things I don't. Although that mindset has served me well the past seven years while I was still pursuing some of what I've accomplished, I now feel veganism isn't as ostracized as it was back in 2010 and I am now at a point in my life where I want to share my accomplishments and the lessons learned along my journey with a more global audience.

I won a Harlem Globetrotters' Talent Search when I was 19, started for the US Olympic Handball Team when I was 20, and lead USA Beach Handball to it's first ever Pan-American Title when I was 22, all while being vegan. I also starred in a sports commercial. As someone who has had quite a unique journey, I think vegans and non-vegans alike could benefit from reading a story like mine. 

4. What advice do you have for other folks who want to go vegan, but they think it's 'too extreme' or it's a 'white person's' thing?

As far as how "extreme" it is, there is some truth that being vegan is quite removed from the norm of eating animals and animal products so you probably won't resonate as strongly with your current personality. I would say be willing to change your lifestyle and your approach to life, but have faith that whatever changes are in store are for the best. As for it being a white person's thing, I would say look toward black vegan role models who are letting their light shine, many of which you can find on Black Vegans Rock.

FEATURE: Kat Theo

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Kat Theo is the author of the children's book Layla Escapes the Zoo: An Adventurous Slow Loris Dreams Big! Kat moved to Asia about two years ago as an ESL kindergarten teacher, and was inspired by the different conversations she had with her students about her vegan diet, so she decided to create a children's picture book.

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Kat states:

"I am a huge fan of the vegan movement and even more in the black vegan movement. I cannot tell you how many times I've been to a vegan event (like most of us brothers and sisters) and I am the ONLY sister in the room. That really got me to start thinking about why veganism is not really a thing in our community. I remember finding your page and falling in love! It's all about redefining what it means to be a vegan. I knew I wasn't alone but I was shocked by how many of us are out there!"

Social Media:

Website: Kattheowrites.com

Twitter:@KatTheoWrites

Facebook: @Kattheowrites

 

FEATURE: Alexis Dupree

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 I just celebrated my 10 year veggie-versary in August! I became a vegetarian in high school—the beginning of my junior year. In the beginning my family was like “umm…what?! that’s not healthy…you’ve gotta eat meat”. I tried to give up meat prior to this around middle school, but my mom wouldn’t let me quit all meats. So over time I started to omit meats one-by-one. First pork, then beef, then chicken, and lastly fish.

I had always felt weird eating meat anyway…as graphic as it is i’d have this vision of the animal being killed while eating meat and it really never sat right with me. Things started to change around middle school when I met a girl who was vegetarian and then learned in health class how to read food labels, how to count calories, and how to take ownership over what I put in my body. I ran home and tried to rid the cabinets of “bad foods” and at first my mom was basically like take  a chill pill, girl. I think it was because she knew that oftentimes preteens are very impressionable and she wanted to see if this was something I truly felt strongly about. Through constant conversations I started to implement whole foods into our cabinets. As I opened up to my social group some were supportive, some weren’t. It was always “black people need meat” or “mmm nah I couldn’t do it" or something like that. 

Today, it seems like veganism has  grown to a household name and I’m thankful for social media to find others who “look like me" and "eat like me”. (Fun fact: once on twitter, I had a follower tell me he became vegetarian just from engaging with me) I knew when I started my journey as a vegetarian my end goal would be vegan. This didn’t happen overnight. But through this journey I’ve helped influence others: my cousin became a pescatarian, i’ve got my mother drinking green juices and smoothies, and even online followers engage in questions with me about healthy eating options and recipes. I know that everyone’s story is different.

Veganism as a whole has helped me become compassionate and turned me into an unexpected animal lover. I want people to know how to eat healthy, and to not say that nobody ever showed them! Even though I don’t think it’s right for ME to eat meat, I don’t want to pressure others with a seemingly cult-like attitude to quit. That won’t help. The running joke is that vegans always find a way to bring up that they’re vegan. Yes, it does happen. But the thing I want others to stop doing is making vegans feel uncomfortable in social settings, you know? 

Outside of my diet/lifestyle I am many things. I am an actress, writer, and Zumba instructor. I recently published my debut ebook, Everything I Wanted to Say, which is available for $5.99 on LuLu.com. This is a compilation of free verse poems about love, growing up black in the suburbs, and briefly addresses mental health. I also blog at www.everythingiwantedtosay.blog

Social Media

Instagram: @adinkc_

 

FEATURE: Kesha

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Hi my name is Kesha and I've been vegan for six months. My doctor suggested that I become vegan four years ago. It was my second time having kidney stones and she told me that I may be able to prevent the stones if I change my diet. It took me four years to finally make a decision but I'm glad I did. My health has improved, my skin is clearer, my nails are growing and I also feel better emotionally and spiritually. I love trying out new foods that I never thought to eat before. I love cooking, baking and photography so I have been sharing my meals a lot on social media since I became vegan. 

I hope that I can encourage others to change to improve their physical, spiritual and emotional health. My goal is to grow my own food and to continue to inspire others the same way that the vegan community continues to inspire me. 

Social Media

Facebook: Natural Kesha

Instagram: naturalkesha 

FEATURE: Stewart Mitchell

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My name is Stewart Mitchell. I'm an advocate for human rights as well as animal rights. I'm also a book author. My vegan journey began in 2011. I was working in food and retail for a number of years when I started to question the business practices of food companies. I started to wonder how come there's always an over abundance of chickens and other animals for every supermarket and restaurant. Then I started to question the factory farming industry and realized how destructive it is to the environment, our health, and especially the animals! I started to see animals in a different light. I realized that ALL animals are sentient beings, not just cats and dogs...ALL animals!

We have no right to interfere with their existence and treat them as commodities for food, clothing or entertainment. I recently wrote a children's book called Kayla The Vegan. It's about a young girl who tries to transition into a new school being the only vegan and trying to deal with people who have a hard time understanding her choice not to exploit animals. I wrote it to teach kids the value of all species lives and that you can continue to eat great food and delicious snacks that do not involve harming animals. I think going vegan was one of the best things I could have done not for myself, but for the sake of animals, the planet and others.

Social Media

Instagram: @ vigilante_vegan
Facebook: Kayla The Vegan
Twitter: @kayla_the_vegan